Legendary Franklin equestrian Cheski Brown has spent more than 50 years working with horses and riders, and she’s still keen to give the NZ equestrian community the very best training facilities possible.
She’s just installed a radical new 3200 square metre ebb & flow arena at her Abderry Equine Services facility in Karaka, with a world-class riding surface that also captures stormwater and channels it into a one million litre storage flexitank for later use.
Olympic eventing champion Blyth Tait and local MP Andrew Bayly officially opened the arena in front of dozens of local riders on Friday afternoon who got to try it out for free.
“The first riders we had jumping in the arena were some young people jumping 50cms, including Liam Moore aged just seven. It’s so fantastic to see. Half way through the afternoon, a group of riders had to jump clear to earn the right to jump a special “Joker Jumps” Course, that had never been seen at Abderry before. Maddy Cutfield (14) was the first person to jump this 90cm course. We ended the day with up-and-coming show jumping stars, Leeshelle Small (19), and Madison Jackson (18) jumping 1.30m. I’m lucky enough to have started working with all three girls at Abderry when they were seven years old and they are now very competent and competitive New Zealand riders."
She sees the arena, constructed by Harrison Lane, as part of her legacy to the district’s horse lovers.
“We have riders from all over New Zealand who come here to train. An arena like this means they can work throughout winter when often it’s not physically possible with older-style facilities where the footing can become inconsistent in very wet weather. Our goal is to help train riders and horses in a safe environment, and the bonus with this one is it’s also recycling water for us to re-use in drier times.”
“A good arena surface means the horses are happy in their work and will jump boldly because they have confidence that the footing on take-off and landing will be predictably constant”
When it rains, water drains through thick layers of shredded GGT Fibre; a geotextile blended with sand into a waterproof lining. Drains carry the overflow into the flexitank for later use.
However, some water remains in the lining, helping to hydrate the fibre. It means a consistent cushioning for the horses to work on, no dust in summer, and no mud or slush in winter.
Harrison Lane’s Laura Daly says the other enormous benefit of this type of system is how little maintenance is required compared to other types of arenas.
“We had a big downpour here the other night – there’s still water sitting in paddocks and drains, but the arena surface is perfect. All the excess water drained away from the arena and Cheski was using it the next morning.
“I’ve got the same type of arena on my block and the other big thing I’ve found is how little time I now spend maintaining a perfect riding surface.”
From left: Harrison Lane's Laura Daly, Blyth Tait, Cheski Brown and Andrew Bayly officially open the arena, with a number of riders Abderry Equine riders behind them.
Local riders celebrate the opening of Abderry's Ebb & Flow arena
Liam Moore on Pippi was the first rider to jump in the arena at 50cm.
Kirsten Hence on Jack's A Heartbreaker
Sacha Thomas and Kiwi Fern
Mya Thomas and Cabbana
William Moore and Molly.
Local MP Andrew Bayly and Olympic Equestrian Blyth Tait make it official.
Jess McGinn and Colin
Maddy Cutfield and Watch Me Fly
Maddy Cutfield and Hidden Warrior
Maddison Jackson and Henton Excalibur
Leeshelle Small and AMS Dolce NZPH.